Youth are Critical for Peacebuilding Efforts
Youth empowerment, voices, and action are crucial to end conflict and build peace.i

The International Day of Peace (September 21) “calls on the peoples of the world to remember their common humanity and join together to build a future free of strife.”ii  

International education provides youth around the world with the power of individual diplomacy. Youth engaging in international and transnational forms of education are empowered to join with their peers to build partnerships and environments where peace can prosper.

International education creates a diplomatic youth corps to bridge gaps of culture, language, and background to develop partnerships and greater understanding around the world. International education engages students across the globe in: thinking critically, relationship building, and engaging in cooperative dialogue so that they can become effective diplomats.

Youth Empowerment

As technology changes the world around us, individual students gain opportunities to inspire and create change on a global level. Social media connects students with similar interests around the world towards achieving common goals. Online campaigns can gather support from millions of individuals in mere days. Governments and policy makers are increasingly influenced by the power of the individual through online movements. Examples are outlined in People Power for Peacebuilding. Such empowerment can either build peace or create conflict. International education can help students develop the diplomatic tools necessary for peacebuilding through increased cross-cultural understanding and by providing the opportunities to develop critical perspectives, create productive relationships, and build the skills necessary for engaging in cooperative dialogue.

International Education and Critical Thinking

International education can provide students with the experiences necessary to develop critical thinking skills. As students engage with people from backgrounds that may be different from theirs and as they navigate cultural environments that may be quite diverse, they gain wider and more complex perspectives as they engage with these new paradigms. These experiences can develop the ability of students to critically examine their own beliefs and values. International education exposes students to the complexity and interdependency of global systems. Engagement with those living within different environments and addressing common challenges from different perspectives provides students with the ability to critically examine their own responses to challenges they face on both global and local levels.

International Education and Relationship Building

The ability to critically examine one’s own perspectives is vital to the development of constructive relationships across cultures. A critical understanding of one’s own identity and place in the world allows students to develop meaningful relationships that cross cultural and national borders. The openness that a critical perspective provides is a necessary component to the formation of positive and productive cross-cultural relationships. Such relationships open up space for constructive dialogue.

International Education and Constructive Dialogue

In an age of increased interconnectivity, a closed and judgmental approach to engaging with the “other” can increase conflict. In contrast, an open and curious approach to engaging with others can provide the trust and patience upon which constructive relationships and open, productive dialogue can be built. Openness and receptivity to the perspectives of another are necessary for the development of constructive dialogue. Civility and trust-building are needed to continue dialogues that build peace among conflict. International education provides the opportunities for students to build these skills.

iUN Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security (2015).